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Saturday, October 22, 2011

FIFA confirms Fox, Telemundo get US WC rights

ZURICH: Fox outbid incumbent ESPN and NBCto win the English-language US television rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, FIFA said on Friday.

Fox agreed to pay more than $400 million for the two-tournament package, according to an official familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity.

ESPN paid $100 million to screen the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 event in Brazil.

Telemundo was awarded the Spanish-language deal by also defeating a rights holder, Univision, for football's showpiece tournament. Telemundo is owned by NBC Universal.

The contracts cover tournament finals in all FIFA competitions from 2015-22, also giving Fox the women's World Cup in 2015 and '19. It also secured all radio rights.

"We are truly honored for FIFA to award the Fox Sports Media Group these extremely important rights," chairman David Hill said in a statement. "The FIFA World Cup and Women's World Cup are two of the world's biggest competitions. It is our privilege to be entrusted with these rights in the United States."

FIFA did not disclose the value of the deals.

Fox adds football's biggest event to a portfolio of rights that includes the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League and Italy's Serie A.

ESPN, which holds the English-language rights for the 2014 tournament in Brazil, earlier acknowledged defeat in its 2018-2022 bid.

"We made a disciplined bid that would have been both valuable to FIFA and profitable for our company, while continuing to grow our unprecedented coverage of the World Cup and Women's World Cup events," ESPN said in a statement. "We were aggressive while remaining prudent from a business perspective."

ESPN also broadcast the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after getting a two-tournament package with 2014 rights.

ESPN paid $100 million and Univision paid $325 million for its 2010-2014 deal, making the US FIFA's most lucrative national market.

The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, and the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

FIFA made the decisions after the networks submitted bids at its Swiss headquarters on Wednesday and Thursday.

Spanish-language radio rights went to Futbol de Primera Radio.

FIFA earns about 90 percent of its revenue from broadcasting, sponsorship and marketing deals tied to the World Cup.

The world governing body of football calculates it earned $2.4 billion in broadcast sales worldwide just for the 2010 tournament.

Qatar defeated the US in the final round of voting for the 2022 World Cup in a five-country contest last December.

FIFA announced in March that it already sold $1.7 billion worth of 2018-2022 broadcast rights to the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America. The deals were 90 percent more valuable than the same territories earned for 2010-2014, FIFA said.